Friday, June 12, 2015

Pogopalooza US Open at Hemming Park in Jacksonville FL

feature_Pogopalooza2015This year was the first time that we saw Mike (my son) compete at Pogopalooza.  For those who haven’t heard of this, it is an extreme pogo competition.  The pogo sticks that they use for these shows are pneumatic (they work by compressing air) instead of spring-powered.  This event was held at Hemming Park in downtown Jacksonville.

The first event was the start of setting the world record for the most bounces without stopping – it started at 6am on Friday morning.  This record was set on Friday at about 2pm by Casie Merza with 75,068 bounces to raise money for St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation. We missed the start (is suspect the park was pretty quiet that early in the day), but Tina and I did see her finish.

high-jumpThe first competition of Pogopalooza was the high jump.  This is really something to see – Biff Hutchison (from Idaho) and Dmitry Arsenyev (from St. Petersburg, Russia) tied for first place setting a world’s record at 10 feet 1/2 inch.  Biff had a unique style for clearing the bar – as he went over it, he flipped the pogo stick and then recovered it to land.

After the high jump competition was the Am-Jam session where amateurs had a freestyle competition and the Freestyle Qualifiers in a “jam” format.  This basically means that there are several competitors running at the same time.

The next day started with a Freestyle Jam competition.  This competition had three pogoers jumping at the same time and counted as 40% of the overall Freestyle score.  Mike performed with Mike Hughes and Dalton Smith – these jam sessions are 5 minutes long. That may not sound like that long, but you can see that he athletes put out a lot of energy during that time.

The Freestyle competitions were my favorites by far.  It’s a chance to really see what these guys can do.  They bring out everything from “big air” to “technical” tricks.  The individual Freestyle competitions were 90 seconds each, and all of these guys were amazing. 

The winners of the competition were Dmitry Arsenyev (first place) Mike Mena (second place) and Henry Cabelus (third place)
The last competition of the even was Best Trick.  In this event, the guys bring something new to each Pogopalooza; something that has never been landed before.  Mike won first place in this event with a double under-leg bar spin.  (To be honest, that’s probably not the right name for the trick, but it’s pretty close).  The video below has highlights from the whole show - Mike's trick starts at the 2 minute 1 second mark.

With first place in Best Trick, and second place in Freestyle, Mike was pretty happy.  He’s still shooting for first place, so we have our fingers crossed for him at Pogopalooza in Pittsburg next month.  If you get a chance to see these guys in person, I’d recommend taking the time.  The X-Pogo team puts does a great show; you’ll gain a whole new appreciation for just how hard these guys work at their craft.

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